CESO Communications brings you the brightest minds in school PR to communicate with clarity, connect with your community, and build for the future. We know the challenges of this work because we’ve done it for decades.
Our combination of in-person and digital engagements has been the perfect fit for district teams across the country. See how we've helped districts like yours turn complex challenges into success stories.
Meet the communications leaders who make it all happen.
He has been a member and leader of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) including service as president in 2006-2007, as well as the Minnesota School Public Relations Association (MinnSPRA), where he served as president twice. He writes and speaks about school communications to anyone who will listen. He has a deep dislike for the status quo and is known for more than his fair share of crazy ideas (some of the craziest ones actually worked). He loves wine, food, travel and can easily be talked into skipping work to take in an afternoon baseball game. He lives in the St. Paul suburbs with his wife Susan, and more wine than two people should own.
Her expertise includes launching strategic communications programs, raising revenue for the classroom through corporate partnerships, and creating target messaging for your school safety program. She’s known in north Texas as #SAFEdragon after successfully writing, implementing and marketing her district’s crisis management response plan. Julie’s resiliency and self-confidence are best demonstrated by her lifelong commitment as a Chicago Cubs fan. It’s no surprise that she is an Enneagram 8. She and husband, Scott, reside in Texas with their teen son, Jackson Thor, and paw pals, Loki and Meeko. No doubt the Thannums are avid Marvel and Disney fans. They also have two adult daughters and a son-in-law who remarkably still find it fun to hang out with their parents. Julie loves reading fiction, binge-watching Netflix and traveling, especially when the trip involves ocean/beach views, walks through Central Park or shopping in Downtown Disney. She’s very passionate about her air-fryer, but if you know what’s good for you, it might be best to avoid that topic all together.
She served as president of the National School Public Relations Association, as well as earlier terms as NSPRA regional vice president and the president of the Missouri School Public Relations Association.
She is an NSPRA Learning and Liberty Legacy Leader, and she received the NSPRA Front-Runner Award, the NSPRA Award of Excellence for publications, the MOSPRA Professional of the Year Award and the MOSPRA Distinguished Service Award. In 2019, she received the NSPRA Gold Medallion, the school public relations profession’s top award for programs, for her comprehensive, strategic, year-round communication program.
Kirby has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from Kansas State University, a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from the University of Kansas, and her accreditation in public relations.
She and her husband, Rob, live in Fairway, Kansas – just a few blocks from the Missouri state line – with their son, William, and their dog, Bentley.
She is a self-proclaimed branding nerd and loves to take a logo and bring it to life in districts. To every project, she brings a unique skill set – marrying a talent for design with mad skills in project management and a solid foundation in communication essentials. When she’s not on a softball field coaching, you can find her doing DIY home projects, traveling, behind a camera, cheering on the Twins and Wild or walking her 100 pound chocolate lab (who should’ve been named Moose, but his real name is Avery). She lives in the Minneapolis suburbs with her husband and moose, I mean, dog.
When he’s not explaining to a school administrator why we don’t need to “make the logo bigger,” you’ll find him on the pitch coaching a club soccer team in St. Louis, in his backyard (near one of his two smokers or his grill) doing magical things with some large slab of meat or in the kitchen making some type of hand-crafted, old-world sausage or charcuterie. Chris lives in the St. Louis area with his wife and two daughters.
In addition to his body of work for three school districts, he is a frequent and popular speaker and presenter at seminars, and his high-energy, content-rich and “hold on to your hat” style has garnered many invitations to speak at conferences and workshops. A glutton for punishment, he remains loyal to Philadelphia sports teams, especially the Flyers and Phillies. He lives in Arizona with his wife and a cat who he has turned into a Facebook and Instagram star.
Over 20 years and four Twin Cities suburban districts later, Susan joined the CESO Communications team in April 2020. She has been an active member of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), including facilitating annual workshops for new school communications professionals, and the Minnesota School Public Relations Association (MinnSPRA), where she served as treasurer (duh, math major) and president. Susan enjoys all aspects of strategic communications, and especially enjoys facilitating and engaging stakeholders to elevate their voice and help them feel valued and heard. She is outspoken in her passion for diversity, inclusion and equity and enjoys coaching others on their own learning journey. Her biggest pet peeve is when she hears people say that something won’t work because “we’ve tried it before,” which leads to her penchant for always asking questions and seeking deeper meaning, often to the exhaustion of her husband, Bob. She enjoys yoga, TRX, knitting and cooking, and often seeks energy in the stillness.
Though she often has her head in the Adobe Creative Cloud, both during and after work, she also loves hanging out with her family and friends, listening to and playing all kinds of music, collecting vinyl records, building things out of wood and dabbling in video games. She is so excited for the opportunity to travel everywhere now that work can be mobile.
For the past five years, Kristin worked at a high school district in the western suburbs of Chicago. Prior to school communications, she worked at an agency in Omaha, Neb. serving clients in the arts, education and public health industries focusing on their brand and communications needs.
Kristin is an active member of the Illinois National School Public Relations Association (INSPRA); and most recently served on the committees for the NSPRA Seminar hosted in Chicago and the organization’s annual Distinguished Service Awards.
While not working, Kristin enjoys taking walks with her husband and two young children, going on vacation (although with kids, it is more like “relocation”), and hosting dinners for family and friends. As an Illinois transplant with no allegiance to Chicago sports, she is a lifelong KC Royals fan.
From journalism to corporate communications to event planning and sales, Liz has seen the full breadth of where a journalism degree could take her. In 2018, she decided to take a leap of faith and move to Thailand where she would pivot once again and teach kindergarten to students in Chiang Mai, located in the northern province of the country, for just under two years.
Realizing that she could combine the power of storytelling with her experience as an educator was how she found her place in school public relations. It’s the possibility of learning something new about a student, parent, staff or community member that inspires Liz everyday. If genuine curiosity doesn’t drive good storytelling, then what does?
When not writing, you can usually see Liz zooming around on her yellow scooter, drinking copious amounts of coffee, working at her local farmers market, tending her vegetable garden and dreaming of the day she and her partner will own a dog (for now we just visit dog parks and pretend we’re dog owners).